Congratulations to the Philadelphia Phillies and their fans (including my cow-orker Todd, and my sister and her son) on winning the World Series! After a 2-day rain delay (no, really!), they beat the Rays 4-3 in the clinching game, winning 4 games to 1.
The Phillies are a long-suffering team, having existed in the shadow of the Philadelphia Athletics until the A’s left town in the 50s. They’re the only team in existence with more than 10,000 (that’s ten thousand) losses. And they’ve won a single World Series in their 126-year existence, back in 1980. But they’ve been a pretty good team in this decade, and they finally managed to vault past the Mets and Braves and push through the playoffs for the win.
In a sign of my own prognosticative skills, I did pick the series to end in 5 games – but I predicted the Rays would run over the Phillies. Instead the Phils won both of Cole Hamels’ starts, won a close one in game 3 in a wild 9th inning, and brought out the big sticks to club the Rays in game 4.
As for the Rays, well, they’re going to be a good team for years to come, so I don’t feel too badly for them. They’re going to make things tough for my Red Sox. But it ought to make for some exciting games.
The Red Sox almost did it again, having forced Game 7 after falling behind 3-1 in this year’s ALCS, but it came to an end last night when the Rays beat the Sox 3-1 in the decisive game.
Ultimately, the Sox just had too many injuries to overcome: David Ortiz hasn’t been the same since he hurt his wrist, Mike Lowell went out for the year at the end of the ALDS due to his hip problems, Josh Beckett wasn’t the same for whatever reason (whether his oblique injury or something else). The Sox had – and used – a lot of depth this year, but they just didn’t have enough to cover for all of that. Despite those problems, they nearly managed to pull it out and go to their third World Series in five years, but couldn’t quite get over the hump.
The Tampa Bay Rays are young and talented, and most of their players are locked up at bargain prices for years to come, the product of years of drafting near the top of the amateur draft combined with a front office that finally knows what to do with all that talent. Reversals of fortune can happen suddenly in baseball, but as things stand the Rays could be the class of the American League for the next five years. The interesting question will be whether they can build a loyal fan base in Tampa, or whether Florida just isn’t a baseball state.
They’ll face the Phillies in the World Series starting on Wednesday. The Phillies are a pretty good team, but I think the Rays will dismantle them pretty handily. The National League’s teams just haven’t been as good as the American League’s in recent years, and I think the Rays will tee off the non-Cole Hamels pitchers in the Phils’ rotation, while Rays manager Joe Maddon will deploy his formidable bullpen to take advantage of the Phillies’ offensive weaknesses (expect to see David Price strike out Ryan Howard in close-and-late situations a couple of times).
Of course, in a short series, anything can happen, but Rays in five games looks like a good prediction.
Obviously I think Sox/Phillies would have made for a more exciting series. Not least because I could’ve traded jabs with my boss’s boss all week! 🙂